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5E How long til you modified 5e?

How long til you house ruled?

  • Less than 1 month

    Votes: 44 52.4%
  • 1 month - 6 months

    Votes: 10 11.9%
  • 6 months - 1 year

    Votes: 6 7.1%
  • 1 year+

    Votes: 6 7.1%
  • Never

    Votes: 18 21.4%

  • Total voters
    84

cbwjm

Explorer
I guess straight away I decided that a wizard could learn to read another wizard's spellbook without having to painstakingly write out each spell into their own book. I'm not sure how long it was before I decided to allow sorcerers to choose any spell that matches their theme (possibly around SCAG with the storm sorcerer). I know around the start I did say to a player that if he wants to play an acid based dragon sorcerer that he can pick any energy spell and just change the damage.

Homebrew subclasses and races appeared fairly quick as well but I'm not sure when I started to create them.

I've also got rid of the bonus action spellcasting rule but that wasn't for a while.

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Immediately. In my case, though, it was because I'd been away from D&D for 30+ years and found the number of rules I needed to manage daunting. So I set aside encumbrance and reactions (including OAs).

Then in our second family game, most of the characters ended up with/wanting animal companions, and I found the current rules (including for the Beastmaster Ranger) lacking.

I did eventual return reactions, including OAs to the game, although I continue to ignore encumbrance.
 

Nevvur

Explorer
Thanks to everyone who has responded and/or voted so far.

Some remarks:

I didn't think "immediately" would be such a common response. I would've included it as an option on the poll if I suspected it would be.

@Shiroiken : You wrote that 5e is great for customization. Out of curiosity, how would you compare the customizability of 5e to earlier editions, assuming you have experience with any of them? (open question if anyone else wants to respond)

@Satyrn: You mentioned inventing new monsters doesn't count as modifying. I respectfully disagree, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn I'm in the minority in defining homebrew content as such. The distinction for me is whether the thing implies consideration of mechanical impact on game play. Something to do with the mystical developer's "stamp of approval" some GMs prefer or require before giving a thing serious consideration for inclusion in their own games. Not that anyone needs WotC's approval to modify the game and have fun doing it, and anyway, custom monsters are some of the lowest-impact form of house rules (again, as I define it). Even so, I'd like to avoid derailing the thread with a debate about semantics. However you and others approach the question and select an answer is fine by me. Clarifications in written responses are appreciated.

@Jer: I hope my explanation to Satyrn explains the difference between the thread title and poll question - that is, there's no difference as far as I'm concerned. I did state that rulings on nebulous systems ("situations... that aren't explicit in the rules" in your words) should be excluded. If you feel otherwise, that's fine. I'm not going to try to police the thread, so again, people can answer the question/poll as they see fit. Also again, clarifications like yours are appreciated.

@ad_hoc: You wrote that it's impossible not to house rule. Adventurer's League players, in theory, should all be operating under the exact same set of rules. A person who has only ever DMd AL would have a "Never" response if they're abiding by AL guidelines. That's not always the case, of course. However, as defined in the OP, rulings are not house rules (see response to Jer).

@redrick: You identified an interesting grey area - codification of a ruling. I feel there's a difference between codification of a ruling and mere consistency with a ruling. DM wiggle room, I guess? Not sure where I would place codification if house ruling is a binary yes/no situation. I'll give it some thought, and perhaps other participants in this discussion can weigh in on the point in the meantime.

---

As to my own experiences...

Started playing D&D back in the 90's. Didn't get much gaming in '99-'14, then returned to D&D as a DM in Jan '14 with 4e. I gave it about two weeks before I started house ruling and it got out of control fast. When 5e came out that September, I immediately switched systems and did my best to curb the instinct to take a hacksaw to the game. After familiarizing myself with the system through some 1 on 1 play with a buddy, I stepped up as an AL DM for my FLGS. For the next 8 months, I ran games stringently by the RAW, and frequently sought guidance on the WotC forums when they were still a thing.

Once I left the program, I felt I had acquired a body of experience sufficient to better understand the impact any particular house rule would have on actual play, and let my inclinations resurface. Since then, I've run several campaigns with varying degrees of house rules, one of them unmodified aside from homebrew monsters, as Satyrn described. Of these, I found this one the most enjoyable to run for various reasons, and it has been my experience that, while 5e is a robust system capable of withstanding the stress of reasonable house rules without breakage (whatever reasonable and breakage means), it's most fun to run with little or no modification.

I actually responded "less than 1 month" on the poll because, technically, my buddy and I did a few house rules as we adjusted our mentalities to the new system. However, those were quickly abandoned once I got into AL, and I never returned to the modifications we invented.
 
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Irda Ranger

Villager
I voted 1 year+, although that's not quite right.

I've had as a House Rule for a long time (15+ years?) that you roll your entire Hit Dice pool when you level up (e.g., 10d8+10) and take the new total if it's higher. I kept that rule in 5E from Day 1.

I also had a couple house rules that were required to support play-by-post, which is how I ran my campaign.

But other than those minimums, I ran it RAW for all of Curse of Strahd (my first campaign), which took me about a year.

I've since written a few house rules around races and classes. Most notably I re-wrote the Warlock class from scratch and tweaked the Revised Ranger. I haven't touched any of the core systems, which I'm generally happy with.
 

Olrox17

Villager
Immediately. The first thing I tweaked is the rule for ranged attacks in melee. RAW, you have disadvantage if you're within 5 feet of an enemy. I changed it so you have disadvantage if you're within the melee reach of an enemy. Big difference when it comes to fighting enemies with reach.
 
Hm, it looks like different people have differing definitions of what house rules are. For me, a house rule is changing an existing rule to make it work differently, not adding something to the game that was not there to begin with. So me modifying the initiative system or rest system with a different rule is a house rule. Adding a new race or class is not a house rule.

But aside from that, it took a while before I started adjusting and tweaking the existing rules, partly because I wanted everyone to understand the actual rules first and second because my primary 5E play at first was AL, so the only house rules in play there were the few that AL management/WotC put in place, since while interpretation of vague rules is up to each DM, actual house rules by DMs in AL play is strictly prohibited.
 

Nevvur

Explorer
Hm, it looks like different people have differing definitions of what house rules are. For me, a house rule is changing an existing rule to make it work differently, not adding something to the game that was not there to begin with. So me modifying the initiative system or rest system with a different rule is a house rule. Adding a new race or class is not a house rule.

But aside from that, it took a while before I started adjusting and tweaking the existing rules, partly because I wanted everyone to understand the actual rules first and second because my primary 5E play at first was AL, so the only house rules in play there were the few that AL management/WotC put in place, since while interpretation of vague rules is up to each DM, actual house rules by DMs in AL play is strictly prohibited.
Yeah, I can appreciate the difference between homebrew content and house rules and, in hindsight, I kinda regret placing them under the same umbrella. I stand by my assessment of homebrew content as a form of house rule, but it doesn't appear to be a widely held point of view. A better question might have been, "At what point did you realize you wanted or needed something more/less/different than what you found in official publications?"

(I would still exclude the use of homebrew/3rd party settings from this question, unless the setting prescribes the modification of existing rules or content.)
 
By the terms used by the OP, two and a half sessions. The first two sessions were a run of part of "Lost Mine of Phandelver", which was run as-is. The third was the start of an Eberron campaign, which included some homebrew monsters from the outset.

Given the timeline, I think that was 1-6 months, but I might be wrong.
 

Smarmot

Villager
Not even sure if this counts but polearm mastery with a quarter staff and a shield got the axe pretty quickly. That's so silly I can't believe it hasn't been errata-cated

A little later, and honestly this seems like a no-brainer that any DM would do, someone pointed out that shooting a target in a fog Cloud or darkness etc would be a normal shot since the attacker's disadvantage was countered by the fact the target couldn't see the attacker. Balderdash. I defaulted to a much simpler rule that any attack through heavily obscuring squares are made at disadvantage (Unless the attacker via senses can see through it)
 

Tallifer

Villager
My group switched mid-campaign from 4th Edition to 5th Edition, so we had to fudge quite a bit with magical treasure, spells and rituals. We rebuilt our characters however from scratch using 5th Edition. I immediately allowed third party races and classes.

Harpy statue.jpg
 

Shiroiken

Explorer
Thanks to everyone who has responded and/or voted so far.

Some remarks:

I didn't think "immediately" would be such a common response. I would've included it as an option on the poll if I suspected it would be.

@Shiroiken : You wrote that 5e is great for customization. Out of curiosity, how would you compare the customizability of 5e to earlier editions, assuming you have experience with any of them? (open question if anyone else wants to respond)
I knew that immediately would be common, which is why I pointed it out. Unlike the last two editions, 5E was built with the assumption of modularity and house-rules (from developer comments during the playtest). 4E was perfectly balanced, which was both it's strength and weakness, but it made house-rules very dangerous to implement, since it would disrupt the very carefully designed balance. 3E wasn't really balanced, but this was the very height of the era of RAW, which I suspect was a byproduct of 3E. AD&D 1E was created to serve as a uniform set of rules for OD&D, which was rife with homebrew and house-rules. I'm not that familiar with BECMI (I mostly just used the adventures, which were mostly excellent), so I don't know how well it was customizable. The closest system to 5E is AD&D 2E, which was also readily customizable, and many ideas were eventually made official in later books.

As for how 5E is customizable, it's built on a pretty simple frame. There are official variants in the PHB and DMG, but there are endless options that can be easily added (or in some cases, removed). The DMGuild is an example of this.

@Satyrn: You mentioned inventing new monsters doesn't count as modifying. I respectfully disagree, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn I'm in the minority in defining homebrew content as such. The distinction for me is whether the thing implies consideration of mechanical impact on game play. Something to do with the mystical developer's "stamp of approval" some GMs prefer or require before giving a thing serious consideration for inclusion in their own games. Not that anyone needs WotC's approval to modify the game and have fun doing it, and anyway, custom monsters are some of the lowest-impact form of house rules (again, as I define it). Even so, I'd like to avoid derailing the thread with a debate about semantics. However you and others approach the question and select an answer is fine by me. Clarifications in written responses are appreciated.
Adding new monsters shouldn't count as homebrew, since there is a section in the DMG discussing how to do it. Assuming the rules are followed, this should still fit into RAW.
 

Coroc

Explorer
[MENTION=6892611]Smarmot[/MENTION] was also one of the first things i threw out. Additionally quarterstaff needs to be wielded with two Hands and does 1d6 in my houserules.
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
A few months and even then I ignored a few rules (encounter guidelines). I think it was 2015 when I started using 3pp material.
 

ad_hoc

Explorer
@ad_hoc: You wrote that it's impossible not to house rule. Adventurer's League players, in theory, should all be operating under the exact same set of rules. A person who has only ever DMd AL would have a "Never" response if they're abiding by AL guidelines. That's not always the case, of course. However, as defined in the OP, rulings are not house rules (see response to Jer).
Adventurer's League is a set of houserules.

And yes, you're defining rulings as not houserules but have not defined where the line is. That is why my answer is either never or always.
 

Satyrn

Villager
I just realized my answer of never should've been immediately. I use a different initiative system.


And you could argue I use a different skill system, but I really just think of it more like I'm ruling that the specific rules don't apply and I'm just using the general "Roll against a DM-determined DC" rule.
 

cbwjm

Explorer
Not even sure if this counts but polearm mastery with a quarter staff and a shield got the axe pretty quickly. That's so silly I can't believe it hasn't been errata-cated

A little later, and honestly this seems like a no-brainer that any DM would do, someone pointed out that shooting a target in a fog Cloud or darkness etc would be a normal shot since the attacker's disadvantage was countered by the fact the target couldn't see the attacker. Balderdash. I defaulted to a much simpler rule that any attack through heavily obscuring squares are made at disadvantage (Unless the attacker via senses can see through it)
I'm not sure if I changed it but I do recall thinking that it was stupid for advantage and disadvantage to cancel each other in the cases of darkness, etc.

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Harzel

Explorer
Immediately, and it was a poor decision.:( I had not played since 1990, and things looked familiar enough that I overlooked some important differences.
 

redrick

Villager
A few months and even then I ignored a few rules (encounter guidelines). I think it was 2015 when I started using 3pp material.
I wouldn't consider ignoring encounter guidelines to be a houserule. It's the DM's prerogative to design encounters however they see fit and there's no need to put that in a houserules document. The only thing I'd bother to discuss with players ahead of time is the goals of encounter design. (Should combats be unforgiving and often best to avoid, cakewalks, challenging but fair, etc.)
 

CleverNickName

Adventurer
I haven't really needed to house-rule anything. 5E is so open-ended, and so many of the rules mechanics are so flexible or completely undefined, that there really isn't much need for new "rules."

As the DM, I can decide that certain situations call for using Constitution for Athletics checks instead of Strength, or that a player's attack did enough damage to also knock his target prone, or that the unsanitary conditions in the swamp prevent the players from fully healing during a long rest, etc.

I have thought about adding a bit more crunch for deities, and bring back the favored weapons. But I don't want a stupid weapon proficiency to be the reason why the player decides his cleric will worship St. Cuthbert instead of Pelor. So I won't probably write it as a house rule...instead, I'll just wait until the character completes a quest for the local temple or something, and then reward the character with a weapon proficiency instead of bonus XP or gold. Easy-peasy.

Edit: When my next campaign kicks off in a few months, I plan to houserule Intelligence a bit, to make it a bit more important. Because having an entire party of "Int 8s and a wizard" is kinda lame.
 
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